SHERIDAN — Sheridan High School head football coach Jeff Mowry said the biggest advancements in the season typically happen between the first and second game. The Broncs made a big leap between the first and second halves in a 21-6 opening-week win in Rock Springs last week, and they hope the momentum carries into Friday’s home opener against the Cheyenne Central Indians.
Sheridan got off to a sluggish start in the Zero Week matchup at Rock Springs before coming alive out of the halftime locker room to snatch the win. The adversities of the long road trip, the season opener and a roster filled with players who had seen limited, if any, varsity time before this year attributed to the slow first half, but Mowry hopes the second half created a steady comfort among his athletes.
“We played a lot of seniors with a lack of experience,” Mowry said. “That first half, they were really kind of getting their feet underneath them.
“They were all doing their job and doing it OK,” he added. “And then in that second half, they kind of figured out, ‘OK, we can do this.’”
The Broncs may not have lit up the scoreboard in typical Sheridan fashion — they scored 51 points in a season-opening blowout of Rock Springs last year. However, Sheridan balanced its offensive woes with a stout defensive performance.
Aside from the six points allowed, two huge second-half turnovers brought the swagger back to the Sheridan offense.
“Our defense kept us in it the entire game and really shut down a rushing attack that I thought would have more yards than it did,” Mowry said, noting that Rock Springs’ ground-pound offense averaged less than 3 yards per carry.
Now the Broncs will look to turn that second half into a full game as they square off with a Cheyenne Central team that Mowry expects to take as big a step forward as any team in 4A this week.
The Indians had a rough start under a new coaching staff last week, getting pounded 47-0 against Thunder Basin. Central started the game with an interception, a muffed kickoff return and a 14-0 deficit from which it would never bounce back.
Mowry isn’t expecting such a shaky start from Central this week.
“I don’t think Central is a bad team; I don’t think (last week’s) score is indicative of their talent level and their skill level,” he said. “Their offense has a lot of talented kids and some o-linemen that have played together for a while, so they can put some things together.”
As Sheridan looks past Central’s Zero Week score and prepares for its first home game of the season, it will still fight through some early-season adversity that comes from off the field. With the new school year starting Tuesday, Mowry and his assistant coaches know it will be a mentally grueling week.
Line coach Kevin Rizer, who has more than two decades of football coaching experience under his belt, warned Mowry that Tuesday’s practice wouldn’t be pretty.
“Be ready coach Mowry,” said Rizer, Sheridan’s most experienced coach. “For 23 years, I’ve seen the first day of school have a rough practice.”
Still, the Broncs have a new sense of comfort that wasn’t quite there ahead of the first game — a long road trip with a new head coach and a load of new faces tucked under helmets. And with some game film on their Week 1 opponent and a fresh batch of confidence, the Broncs are ready to put together more than just one half of football in front of the hometown fans.
Friday’s home opener kicks off at 6 p.m. at Homer Scott Field.